Bent Takes a Bite out of Golden Grahams

The latest spots from Bent Image Lab and agency Cossette bring us seemingly sweet yet terribly twisted breakfast cereal characters. Directed by Solomon Burbridge these two spots for Golden Grahams lure their viewers into a seemingly “safe” environment of a brightly lit kitchen table, while a group of grahams play in the morning sun. A beautiful ray of golden light shines down on one of the cereal pieces, accentuating his flavor crystals and turning his fellow grahams into hypnotic, ravenous cannibals.

“This was such a perfect project for me because in these spots the audience gets to see something really, really cute and something really, really scary in the same story line,” says Burbridge.

Both Jump Rope and Funny Faces feature innocent-looking grahams enjoying a moment of play with each other. As the sun sparkles upon them they are chomped on by their fellow grahams who have transformed into huge, jagged-jawed cannibals. The sparkling morsel is reduced to only a few dusty crumbs as his fellow grahams whistle away their guilt.

“I love it when I get the chance to direct an animated spot with real comedic acting, and this script was the perfect opportunity to do that,” explains Burbridge. “In funny faces there’s this really great slow burn moment where the one graham doesn’t realize that the other graham is looking at him like he is going to eat him. It’s a moment of desire and it overcomes him.”

The concept of translating these adorable but deadly grahams into CG animation came from a group discussion focused on cereal psychology. “We sat around the table and talked about the spots for a long time. We discussed who we thought the grahams personalities should be, what kind of life form they are, how they act with each other, what their society might be like,” says 2D Designer Robin Ator. “You think about cereal psychology for a bit, and with that in mind you make some pictures. That’s really where the fun is because it can go in any direction.”

Sweet and monstrous was the direction they chose. The “sweet” grahams adorned baby-like features consisting of big eyes, tall foreheads and tiny mouths. The monstrous characters were the opposite with huge, jagged mouths that span the whole side of the cracker, as well as claws for hands and straight body lines, like exclamation points.

“The hard part was making the characters cute and evil-ish at once,” says Burbridge. “But we also had to kind of retain a feeling of joy throughout the thing.”

“Many clients come to us to create their original characters,” says Bent Executive Producer Ray Di Carlo. “Our teams have the ability to get down in the trenches with the characters during the development process. Find out who they are at a base level and put those qualities into their personalities. I think this kind of deep investigation into who the characters is, is why we have such a successful original character development track record.”

Using wide, sweeping shots to give a sense of expansion, and an autumn-like color scheme with soft oranges and yellows underscored by shadows of red and blue, the spot stands out from the standard commercial landscape. The light beams and characters, whose colors match those of the background, were highlighted with a slight tint to help them pop from their surroundings.

“It was kind of a bold move and I’m glad that the agency is going for it,” says Burbridge. “It’s monochromatic in the strangest way and it really is like a specific production value that doesn’t get used a lot. I don’t think there is anything out there that looks quite like this right now and I’m really happy about that.”

The spots were created in 3D Studio Max. Bent’s CG department used V-ray to create the beam of light that highlights the grahams. The compositing department added 2D effects with Nuke to capture the details and sparkle of the light beam. Phy-X software was employed to determine the parameters of gravity of the graham crumbs falling through the air and hitting the ground.

“I liked the creative so much that I just wanted to get the spot,” says Burbridge. “The taste appeal is there. The comedy is there. The look is there. I feel like it has everything that I wanted from it.”

Funny Faces and Jump Rope aired on July 16, 2012.

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